By Stephen Braun, Jeff Horwitz and Bernard Condon | Associated Press
WASHINGTON — At an Oval Office gathering earlier this year, President Donald Trump began touting his administration’s new “Opportunity Zone” program that offers massive tax breaks to developers who invest in downtrodden American communities. He then turned to one of the plan’s strongest supporters.
“Ivanka, would you like to say something?” Trump asked his daughter. “You’ve been pushing this very hard.”
The Opportunity Zone program promoted by Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner — both senior White House advisers — could also benefit them financially, an Associated Press investigation found.
Government watchdogs say the case underscores the ethical minefield they created two years ago when they became two of the closest advisers to the president without divesting from their extensive real estate investments.
They jointly own a big stake in a real estate investment firm, Cadre, that recently announced it is launching a series of Opportunity Zone funds that seek to build major projects under the program from Miami to Los Angeles. Separately, the couple owns interests in at least 13 properties held by Kushner’s family firm that could qualify for the tax breaks because they are in Opportunity Zones in New Jersey, New York and Maryland.
There’s no evidence the couple had a hand in the selecting any of the nation’s 8,700 Opportunity Zones, and the company has not indicated it plans to seek tax breaks under the new program. But the Kushners could profit even if they don’t do anything — by potentially benefiting from a recent surge in Opportunity Zone property values amid a gold rush of interest from developers and investors.
Ivanka Trump’s advocacy for the Opportunity Zone program “creates a direct conflict of interest with her spouse’s investment in Cadre,” said Virginia Canter, chief ethics counsel for the nonprofit Citizens …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Politics